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Posts Tagged ‘Northern Ireland’

Duffy on a Truth Commission for Northern Ireland

February 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Aoife Duffy, a PhD student in the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway has just published an article entitled “A Truth Commission for Northern Ireland?” in the International Journal of Transitional Justice. The abstract states:

 A report published by the Consultative Group on the Past (Consultative Group) in January 2009 recommended that a ‘Legacy Commission’ be established for Northern Ireland that would fulfil a reconciliation, truth-recovery and justice mandate. The work of the Consultative Group highlights how international justice norms are interpreted at a local level in a way that takes account of local histories and priorities. This article critically examines the proposed Legacy Commission and finds that the framework outlined by the Consultative Group does not sufficiently challenge discourses of violence that hinder the bedding down of positive peace in Northern Ireland. Universal human rights and justice concepts remain peripheral to this framework, which avoids the type of profound conflict analysis that might advance societal stability and harmony. Instead of challenging the structural and institutional inequalities that underpinned the violence of the conflict in Northern Ireland and opening up new pathways to accessing truth and justice, the Consultative Group’s report advocates a truth-recovery process that is not open to public scrutiny and is couched in the language of forgetting, which begs the question whether this is a genuine attempt to explore sidelined or dissenting narratives of conflict, or merely another forum in which to contain them.

The article is extremely engaging and comes at a time when there seems to be a ratcheting up of activity regarding the Northern Irish processes, with the Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry due to be released soon and the imminent exhaustion of the consultation period on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. It’s well worth a read.

A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland

February 9, 2010 4 comments

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission delivered its final report to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 10 December 2008. In the last issue of the European Human Rights Law Review in 2009, Colin Harvey and David Russell offer their thoughts on the report and the consultation process that produced it (Harvey & Russell ‘A new beginning for human rights protection in Northern Ireland?’ [2009] EHRLRev 748). The (relatively brief) article is not a detailed critique (nor could it be – as one of the authors is a co-author of the report) nor a mere summary. Rather, it sits somewhere in between as a sort of Cliff’s Notes for those who need to catch up on the debate (making this blog post a Cliff’s Notes of Cliff’s Notes, á la John Crace’s Digested Read Digested). Read more…

Ahern on Obama’s Nobel Prize and his time as Taoiseach

It is reported in today’s Irish Examiner that former Taoiseach Bertie bertie_ahern_1013Ahern can not understand  the choice of President Obama for this year’s Nobel Prize. (I already posted on the surprise choice of the Nobel Commitee here). Mr. Ahern is quoted as saying that the choice ‘doesn’t make any sense’ and further that President Obama is probably embarrassed by his selection. The quotes come from an interview in Time Magazine with Mr. Ahern (It helpfully notes that Taoiseach is pronounced ‘Tea-shock’). In the article Mr. Ahern blames the media for his decision to step down as Taoiseach noting that they ‘kept after me’ though adding that he would have left office anyway in 2009 . He also considers that the recession can also be put at the media’s door. He asserts that when he attempted to introduce a property tax ‘the media killed me.’ While acknowledging there were mistakes made during the boom years, he would appear to be suggesting that this was largely out of his control and in the media’s. When questioned on whether he would consider running for Irish President he states that he has not considered it

It is in his remarks regarding President Obama that in many ways Mr. Ahern is at his most scathing arguing that if there were prizes for good mood music Mr. Obama would have won two of them and that the prize does not make sense. While I would agree with Mr. Ahern that the choice was ill-judged as I mentioned in the earlier post, it is strange that he is so virulent on the topic. The Examiner article notes that Mr. Ahern was once considered a possible winner of the Prize for his role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, one wonders whether this is why Mr. Ahern is so concerned that it only be awarded to those who have achieved something and not on aspiration only.

The Northern Ireland Court Service and Restorative Justice Reports

November 3, 2009 4 comments

Restorative JusticeLast week’s Northern Ireland Court Service Annual Report (2008-09) provides backslapping bonhomie and useful statistics on the operation of the Courts in Northern Ireland in equal measure.

The recession’s impact on the activities of courts in this period has been particularly interesting. The relatively stable amount of business in Northern Ireland’s Crown Courts and a 6 per cent drop in cases before magistrates courts can be set against fears of rising crime rates which accompanied the economic downturn. Unsurprisingly, however, the civil courts have made up for this shortfall, with an overall 14 per cent rise in caseload largely being accounted for by a 77 per cent rise in mortgage cases.

Nonetheless, in recognition of the degree to which the Court Service has tackled these challenges, the Report notes that ‘all 21 courthouses in Northern Ireland achieve the new Cabinet Office “Customer Service Excellence” Standard’, the successor to the Chartermark standard for public service providers (p.6). As Jack Straw noted in his response to the report, these awards provide ‘clear testimony to the positive experience of court users and the service delivered by front-line staff’ (p. 7). Nonetheless this award scheme is, like its predecessor, dogged by the reality that, even if its performance dramatically declined, the people of Northern Ireland would have no alternative to the Court Service as presently organised (and that lobbying for reform would still have to go through Westminster as policing and justice spheres are yet to be devolved).

Read more…

Ian Brady and the Right to Die

October 29, 2009 1 comment

I watched a very interesting docu-drama on BBC Alba last night on Ian Brady and the right to die (entitled, predictably enough, Ian Brady – The Right to Die), which has created a minor furore in Scotland about an issue which has largely been forgotten.  

 The Moors murders carried out by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley between July 1963 and October 1965, in and around the Greater Manchester area have, perhaps more than any other murders, passed into the popular consciousness of Britain and Ireland. The victims were five children aged between 10 and 17, at least four of whom were sexually assaulted. The murders are so named because two of the victims were discovered in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor; a third grave was discovered on the moor in 1987, over 20 years after Brady and Hindley’s trial in 1966. Read more…

Purdy and Assisted Suicide in the Northern Ireland Assembly

October 20, 2009 2 comments

Debbie Purdy & Omar PuenteIn heated Assembly debate last week MLAs took turns to pour scorn on the House of Lords decision in R (on the application of Purdy) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2009] UKHL 45. At the end of July Debbie Purdy (pictured with her husband, Omar Puente), who suffers from primary progressive multiple sclerosis, succeeded in her judicial review seeking further guidance upon the exercise of prosecutorial discretion should her husband assist her if she chose to commit suicide. In the aftermath of this decision the Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland undertook to clarify their guidance.

Mr Danny Kennedy (UUP, Newry & Armagh) rounded on the courts as the instigators of the assisted suicide debate:

‘The present debate in the UK flows from the decision that the Law Lords made a relatively short time after Parliament had spoken definitively against suicide. That is not how the law in the United Kingdom or anywhere should be made. The courts exist to interpret law, not to make it’.

Mr Simon Hamilton (DUP, Strangford) followed with an assertion that, ‘we were seeing another example of potential legislating from the bench. That is not the way that law is or should be made in this part of the world. Law is supposed to be made by legislators such as us and enacted in the courts by the judiciary, not made by the judiciary itself’.

Read more…

Findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry delayed until March 2010

September 24, 2009 1 comment

The Irish Times Reports today that  Lord Saville’s findings in relation the Bloody Sunday shootings have been delayed again and will not be with the Government until March 22nd. The Saville inquiry was set up to establish a definitive version of the events of Sunday 30 January 1972, superseding the tribunal set up under Lord Widgery which is widely regarded as a whitewash. The Tribunal was established as long ago as 1998, only started work in 2000 and heard from more than 900 witnesses before it ended and retired on 23 November 2004. Publication of the Inquiry’s Report was expected at the end of 2007, or possibly early 2008. Astonishingly, it has taken over five years to trasmit the findings

.BS Read more…